Chapter #9 – Coda
Thanks to Princess Paula and Djinn for the Beta of this story.
After a long, silent walk back from the shrine to their fallen teammate, Diana watched her teammates collect their belongings from the League's apartment. Promising to catch up with them the next day, she walked to the balcony so she could watch them soar into the air. They disappeared into the skyline, heading south to the hidden shuttle base for the return flight to the Watchtower.
It was her second farewell in as many hours. Diana had already exchanged a quick farewell with her mother before the funeral procession had even started down Fifth Avenue. Hippolyta had spent the entire memorial service fidgeting one row behind the League. Diana knew her mother's moods well enough to leave her alone. Her mother was clearly uncomfortable in the proximity of so many men, so Diana quietly sent Hippolyta back to Themyscira with a heartfelt embrace and a promise to keep in touch.
She entered the apartment through the French-doors, then headed for the bedroom. Stopping in the doorway, Diana started peeling off the ceremonial tunic in favor of a dress she thought appropriate for the reception at Clark's apartment. The tunic covered her armor, including the breastplate Hephaestus had fashioned for her mother an eon before.
She'd just unbuckled the last fastener to her breastplate when a forced cough from the corner alerted her to the presence of another in the room.
Startled, Diana gazed into the corner, then smiled when she realized her intruder's identity. "You have a gift for catching me in various states of undress. Am I to presume you wish to make it a habit? I may have to start wearing something a bit more provocative underneath."
"I've been called many things, Princess, but a peeping tom is not one of them," Batman's voice floated out, then he emerged from the shadows. Taking a circuitous route around her, he tried to skirt past her for the door. "I'll give you some privacy."
Still blocking the doorway, Diana made no effort to move. Unable to get around her, he stopped a few feet away, patiently waiting for her to step aside. Clutching the breastplate to her bare skin, Diana sneaked a quick glance downward to see if her privacy had been violated. She chuckled at her clumsy attempt to salvage her dignity, then decided to provoke the Dark Knight. She raised her eyes to his again, and there was intensity in his expression that she found attractive. She raised her eyebrows, daring him to follow her next move. Diana held her breath, then dropped the breastplate. The metal clattered as it hit the floor, landing at his feet.
"It's not like you haven't seen me like this before," Diana noted. She licked her lips coyly, providing another challenge – and an invitation – to her quarry.
Batman didn't answer. She hoped that his base, male instincts would once again override all logical thought, just as they had done on the island. He said nothing, but she could hear the deep, measured inhalations of the yoga technique she'd learned from him when she'd nearly drowned in Atlantis. On the surface, Bruce succeeded in maintaining his rigid control, however the air conditioning suddenly increased its output dramatically, responding to the sudden increase of the temperature in the room.
Diana continued to stare at him, almost at eye-level as they were near equal in height. He maintained his rigid countenance until a minute twitch of his upper lip betrayed him.
It was the most she could hope for.
Knowing how hard it was for Batman to bear the thought of losing control, Diana smiled at his predicament. Giving him one last eyeful, she slowly turned her back to him, pulled a blouse out of a drawer, then dropped it over her head, pulling it down until she was covered. By the time she turned around to face him again, he'd slipped away into the safety of the living room. She followed him, idly wondering where the raw passion that he'd displayed that day at the lake had gone. But Diana had to admit that she found his unpredictable behavior attractive.
"Thank you for coming today," she said, pulling a bottled water from the fridge. She offered one to him but he declined with a quick shake of his head. "I know you and Superman always had your differences, but it meant a lot to me. Why did you change your mind?"
"Ten thousand people in the crowd and you manage to pick me out of the one place where there was no cover," he grumbled, then his head drooped. "I thought about what you said. While I still don't believe he's dead, it made sense to go."
"I'm glad that we had a chance to part as friends," Diana said. "We'd gotten along better the last few days than the whole time we were dating."
"That's true for every relationship I've ever had."
Diana smiled, well aware his admission was as much of a window into his personal life as she was likely to get. His jaw tightened, a betrayal of his anxiety about sharing anything personal about himself, but she didn't want him to leave just yet.
She thought it best to change the subject. "Any news on your theory?"
"Only that I'm more convinced than ever that he's not dead," Batman replied, then his eyes narrowed. "What did Lois give you at the memorial service?"
"And I thought you were suddenly developing an unhealthy obsession with me," Diana replied, rolling her eyes. "The Kent's are having a reception at Clark's apartment in a half an hour. Lois knew we had some history, so she was kind enough to pass along the invitation."
"Give them my regards."
"You should come, too." Diana blurted quickly, momentarily forgetting his aversion to any situation that required intimacy or a display of emotion. But her thoughts grew more animated as she debated the merits of the idea. "If you really think that he's not dead, then perhaps you could let the Kent's know about your theory."
"I could do them more harm then good if I'm wrong," he replied with a hard shake of his head. "Giving somebody false hope is probably the cruelest thing one could do in a time like this."
"Batman is admitting the possibility that he could be wrong?" Diana smirked. Pretending to be aghast at the idea, she couldn't resist needling him a little further. "Should we write down the date and time for posterity's sake?"
"I'm not wrong about him not being dead," Batman noted, pulling open the door onto the balcony. "I just don't know what happened to him - yet."
"What should I tell them?"
"Tell them I'm working on it."TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
Hoping to blend in with the other attendees she presumed would be at the reception, Diana elected to wear a simple black dress that covered her uniform handily. With her hair pulled back in a bun and having traded her boots (tucked neatly in her handbag) for a pair of simple black pumps, she'd attracted only one wolf whistle from a construction worker during the ten-block walk over to Clark's apartment.
Lana Lang opened the door. Diana looked down at the petite red-head, who did a quick double take when she realized she was staring eye to chest at another female. Diana was used to the reaction as Lana was clearly stunned by Diana's height, tilting her head back far enough to be able to look her in the eye. Rousing herself, Lana politely opened the door a little wider, allowing Diana enough room to pass by. Diana walked into the living room and was surprised to find that, including herself; there were only six people in the room, five of who were female.
Jonathan and Martha Kent rose from the couch and greeted her warmly. Lois and Kara nodded a polite greeting from the kitchen, but that was the extent of the reception.
"Diana – or is it Princess Diana – thank you so much for stopping by," Martha said with a forced smile. To Diana, Martha looked ten years older than the picture Clark displayed on the mantle from Christmas the year before. The emotional toll the poor woman had undergone was obviously having a physical effect as well.
"Diana is fine. Thank you for the invitation. It was most kind."
"Not at all," Jonathan rejoined, shaking her head with a firm grip. "I'm so sorry that we haven't met before. Clark told us about his teammates in the League, but we could just never bring ourselves to take him up on his invitation to visit that spaceship you all live in."
"I hope you realize the offer still stands. He has – or had – a room down the hall from me. You may want to stop by and tour his room so that you can retrieve his personal effects."
Jonathan's closed his eyes in pain as Diana stumbled along with her invitation. She kicked herself for being so obtuse about Clark's belongings, but the older man steadied himself a moment later.
"That's very kind of you. I'll talk to Martha about it and see if she wants to head to outer space for a day. Might be fun. Can I get you something to drink?"
"A glass of white wine, please."
Jonathan sauntered off to the sidebar, retrieving a bottle of Russian River Chardonnay from the mini-fridge. He struggled to remove the cork then managed to spill a few drops on her shoes, so Diana attempted some small talk to put him at ease. "Please have Lois give me a call if you ever get the urge to visit with us. Besides," she noted, pointing at Kara in the kitchen. "It's not as if Supergirl won't be filling his shoes soon."
Diana heard a gasp across the room as Martha put her hand over her mouth in horror at the idea. Martha stared at Jonathan, clearly in shock over the idea that Kara might soon be placed in the same harm's way that had taken Clark away from them so quickly. Diana saw her expression and realized that she'd made another faux paus. She chided herself for verbalizing such a thought in front of Kara's adopted mother, especially during such a difficult time. By the look on their faces Diana realized that neither of them had even considered that possibility. She tried thinking of something to mollify them, but fortunately Lana came to her rescue.
"Of course, she's still a little young for League membership," Lana observed. "Besides, isn't it true that Batman won't even let any of his team in Gotham visit the Watchtower? He'd probably veto Kara's membership based on her inexperience."
"Don't get me started on Batman," Lois smirked from the kitchen doorway. "He didn't even show up for the funeral today."
"He was there," Diana blurted.
"Hiding in the shadows I take it?"
"Something like that."
"Superman – I mean Clark – deserved better from him."
"He doesn't handle loss well," Diana replied lamely.
"Who does?" Lois retorted.
There was an air of tension in the room as Diana tried to find the right words to placate the woman before her, so Diana was grateful when Lois turned to Martha Kent. "Martha, could you help Kara in the kitchen? I'm all thumbs when it comes to chopping vegetables."
"Of course, dear," Martha replied. Jonathan and Lana volunteered to help, leaving Lois and Diana alone in the living room a moment later.
"Ms. Lane, I really am very sorry about Superman," Diana said gently. "When did you discover his dual identity?"
"About ten minutes before Toyman obliterated him," Lois replied. "And please, call me Lois."
Diana nodded. Confused about the small turnout, she looked around the room. "Should we expect more people to arrive later on?"
Lois shook her head emphatically, then steered Diana out onto the balcony to avoid prying ears in the kitchen. "These people are the only ones who knew that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. We're hoping Clark Kent can disappear at the same time without the rest of the world putting the missing pieces together."
"I already told my boss that Clark called me on his way to the financial district to get a first-hand account of the battle. He hasn't shown up for work since, obviously, so Perry's starting to get worried that Clark is buried in the rubble. We'll have to go through the trauma of attending another funeral for appearance's sake, but hopefully my plan will keep Clark's identity secret. Especially for the Kents sake. They've been through enough already."
Diana nodded again, then a thought dawned on her. "I don't mean to pry, but how did Clark tell you about Superman?"
"He tried to tell me while I was molesting him," Lois replied with a wry smile. "But he couldn't bring himself to it, so he drew his glasses onto a newspaper photo of Superman and left me a note telling me to turn on the news footage. Ten minutes later Toyman blew him to kingdom-come."
"It must have been quite a shock."
"To say that I was shocked is the understatement of the year," Lois said, her eyes wetting with tears. "It's a shame, really. We had a memorial service today for Clark Kent, only people didn't know it. Superman was just what he could do."
"I fell for Superman before I got to know Clark Kent," Diana admitted with a sigh. "As much as I wanted to, I never fell in love with Clark. It was stupid on my part, really…to fall for an ideal rather than the man himself. No wonder we didn't work out."
"Join the club. First time I saw him soar above the skyline, I almost wet my pants. Clark shows up at the Daily Planet at the same time, knocking over desks like the hayseed he wanted us to see. We worked together for three years and I never glanced Clark's way unless I wanted to tease him about something. It wasn't until I moved to Gotham that I realized how much I missed Clark – even more than Superman, probably, though you might have played some part in that."
"I'm sorry that I stepped between you two," Diana murmured. "If it makes you feel any better, I think he started dating me to get over losing you."
"Timing is everything in life, isn't it?" Lois asked. "I finally decided to do the smart thing and leave Gotham and set things right with Clark, then this happens."
"The Fates are often unkind."
"I'm not sure how much I think the Fates had to do with it. An impulsive romance with a certain billionaire in Gotham for a year didn't help matters. Odd thing is, they couldn't be more different.
Clark patiently waited for me to figure out how I felt, whereas Bruce was just full throttle from day one."
"He misses you."
"He said that?"
"Not in so many words, but I've learned to read his moods pretty well."
"Mr. 'Dark and Brooding' not verbally forthcoming? Get used to it, Princess." Lois retorted, then her expression changed and she pointed a finger at Diana. "You have a thing for him, don't you?"
"I'm not sure," Diana admitted. "There is something…intriguing about him, to be sure."
"Like boys in tights, do you?" Lois asked with a laugh. "Maybe we should charter a club."
Diana nodded in agreement, then feeling a certain kinship with a woman whom she'd just met, decided to take her into her confidence. "My experience with men is pretty limited," Diana admitted. "Well, at least men of this era. They're much more complex than in ancient times. Hawkgirl is the only other woman that I can talk to about any of this, but she's so pragmatic about everything that it's just not practical. She's always telling me, 'Take whatever you can grab, Diana.' or 'Don't knock it until you try it.' I need something better than carpe diem."
Lois seemed to think about it for a minute before replying. "I wish I could warn you away from Bruce, but I can't. He's intelligent, resourceful, and loyal to a fault. With the exception of a few wicked scars crisscrossing his body, he's a modern-day Adonis. The only downside to Bruce is Batman, and I could just never learn to deal with that."
"He isn't the easiest man in the world to deal with," Diana admitted. "He made me so angry when I suggested the formation of the League that I went home to Themyscira, convinced I'd never see any of them again. He showed up on Themyscira a few weeks later to track down Aresia, then suddenly I'm a full-time member. It wasn't until months later that I realized he'd manipulated the formation of the League on his own terms."
"He is manipulative," Lois agreed. "And emotionally unavailable."
"He is all of those things," Diana admitted. "But he is brilliant and insightful, to be sure. How he ever figured out that Superman and I started seeing each other I will never know."
"Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes," Lois snorted. "Not that he would ever admit it to me, but I could tell you were getting under his skin as well."
"He told me more about you than the rest of the team combined," Lois answered with a wry shrug.
"What happened between you two?"
"A part of me will always adore him, really. But when he pulls down that cowl, something happens to him. He's already borderline obsessed without it, but once he's got the uniform on, something happens that is just too surreal. I couldn't deal with it anymore, and I realized that I missed Clark." She added the last part softly, as if in reverence.
Diana didn't want to debate the point, so she decided to remain neutral. "Well, he's obviously got issues, but I still admire him. He never gives up. Do you know that he thinks there is a chance that Clark is still alive?"
Lois's eyes widened. "He told you, too? I thought he was just trying to make me feel better. I know he doesn't express himself a lot, but I could tell that he was hurting that day. I always blamed myself for driving a wedge between them."
"It wasn't your fault," Diana spoke quickly, placing her hand on Lois's shoulder with a reassuring shake. "So you've got good taste in men. It could be worse."
Lois laughed, then looked Diana in the eye. "I saw what you almost did to Toyman. What stopped you?"
"Flash," Diana muttered bitterly. "He told me that's not how Superman would have wanted justice served, so I spared Toyman."
"Do you really believe that?"
"Do I believe that Superman would have killed Toyman if the tables were turned? No. I think his experience leading Darkseid's army in the invasion of Earth two years ago scarred him so much that Superman could never take a life, even if it was warranted. Superman wouldn't talk to me for days after our battle with Darkseid. He blamed me for removing him from the field before he'd finished Darkseid once and for all. The problem is that I don't think he could have finished Darkseid even if the opportunity presented itself. Superman knew that, and it tore him up. That was probably the last straw for us."
"So would you have killed Toyman if Flash hadn't stopped you?" Lois asked.
"I would be lying if I said otherwise."
"You're much different than either Bruce or Clark in that regard."
"I would have been happy to kill Toyman to ensure he never harmed another soul on this planet. It wouldn't have bothered me in the least."
"Pretty harsh viewpoint by our society's standards."
"The Amazons are a peaceful society," Diana pointed out. "But we also understand that the world is a dangerous place. Our history demands eternal vigilance to ensure we do not suffer the same fates that befell our sisters so many centuries ago. Part of that vigilance requires taking the fight to the enemy. I've been actively campaigning for the League to be more pro-active in dealing with threats like Toyman and other criminals who are incapable of reforming themselves, but I've been outvoted at every turn."
"What would you do? Lock them up in the Watchtower?"
"One possibility," Diana admitted, then dropped her voice in a confidential whisper. "Or place them in the Phantom Zone. Either idea would be preferable to having the world's supervillains pick us off one by one. We wouldn't be standing here having this conversation if my methods were employed. Clark would be alive."
Diana suddenly stiffened at the soft vibration of the comm. link. She tapped the device to open the link.
It was a one-way conversation from Lois's point of view but Diana's suddenly grave expression told her everything she needed to know.
"Batman, I'm still in Metropolis. I'm on my way. ETA two minutes," Diana responded, then glanced into the apartment. "Give them my regards, please."
"Who is it this time?"
"Same group we fought three days ago, plus some new recruits."
Lois grabbed Diana's arm. "Take care of Bruce," she whispered.TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
Full from the pork roast Martha had implored them all to eat, Lois was busy helping the Kents clear the dishes off the table when a cold blast of air suddenly rushed into the room. She set the pile of plates stacked in her arms back onto the table, mentally kicking herself for leaving the balcony door open. As she strode past the television, a tall, undeniably masculine shadow suddenly loomed out of the darkness.
Superman stepped into his apartment looking like a changed man.
Lois felt her eyes bug out of her head as the man for whom she'd openly mourned stood in front of her. His hair, beard, and clothing gave him the appearance of a mountain man, but there was no mistaking that it was Clark.
"Clark, please tell me that I'm not dreaming," she stammered. "Is it really you?"
"So I take it that my drawing gave away my little secret," he replied with a warm smile.
Lois ran into his open arms, trying to convince herself that this wasn't just a figment of her imagination.
"Lois, do I hear somebody in there?" Jonathan Kent called out from the kitchen. Before Lois had a chance to reply, Clark's farther emerged into the living room, drying a dish with a towel draped over his shoulder. He glanced up and froze. The plate dropped at his feet, shattering into pieces.
Clark withdrew from Lois's embrace at super speed, running to his father's side. Martha, Kara and Lana emerged from the kitchen speechless at the sight of him. Weeping with joy, Lois joined in on the group's embrace.
Then the questions began, fast and furious. Clark held his hand up, then pointed at the soiled uniform that he'd patched up with what appeared to be animal fur.
"Give me two seconds to get cleaned up," he said, then disappeared into the bedroom, closing the door behind him.TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
"So, Toyman's beam was actually a time machine?" Lois asked in disbelief. "That's why Batman couldn't find a trace of you."
"I suppose," Clark replied, sipping at a cup of tea. "All I know is that when I came to, I was lying next to a couple of the cars and some rubble from the buildings Toyman had blasted forward in time. I thought I was off-planet since the sun was red, so my powers were pretty much gone by the time I came to. Odd thing was, I picked up a homing signal from the League, but there was no response. I ended up driving one of the cars in the direction of the beacon until I ran out of gas, then walked the rest of the way. Finally found Vandal Savage waiting for me at the Watchtower, which had de-orbited."
He let the implication of that news sink in, then continued. "Apparently sometime in the next few months Vandal Savage took advantage of my absence and destroyed the League. The forces he unleashed accidentally shifted Earth's orbit and the sun went supernova soon thereafter. He was the only survivor, along with some mutated species. Anyway, Vandal had thirty thousand years to reflect on his actions, and decided that he'd made a mistake. Somewhere along there, he managed to construct a time machine, so it took us a few weeks to get everything operational. That's how I got back here, to now."
Lana reached across the table and tickled his beard. "How long were you gone in your time?"
"Better part of six months, I suppose," he replied with a shrug. "The days were longer, so it was hard to tell. Why, how long have I been gone here?"
"Five days," Martha stated. "We held a memorial service for you today. There's a shrine honoring you in Central Park."
"I saw it right after I came through the time portal." Clark nodded. "The League was already engaged in battle with Kalibak and the others when I arrived." He paused, then a smile creased his face. "Well, to be more accurate, the League had already taken them down. I got there just in time to stop Diana from wiping Lobo all over the pavement."
"Lobo?" Jonathan asked. "He's here?"
"Apparently, he decided to fill the void when I was gone," Clark replied. "I don't think he bothered to consider the League's reaction."
"So they already know you're back?" Lois asked with a frown. "Batman will probably put you back on Monitor Duty in an hour."
"Actually, he told me to take a week off," Clark replied, confused at the memory of his de-briefing with his League teammates. "He said something about how I needed to take care of some unfinished business, then he handed me this card…" He produced a credit card that was blank with the exception of sixteen numbers and a magnetic strip. " And told me to enjoy Pako Pako."
Clark turned to Lois next to him on the couch. "Does that mean anything to you?"
Lois nodded, leaned closer, and whispered into his ear. "It's an island he owns near Tahiti. I wanted to go there, but he was always too busy. He's must be giving us a week there for rest and relaxation."
Clark grinned from ear to ear. "Well let's figure out our cover story with the Daily Planet then pack our bags."TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
The halls of the Watchtower were empty as Batman sat alone at the Monitors. He was alternately concentrating between various news television channels on the Monitors above while typing in his notes from a string of high-scale burglaries that he was convinced were the handiwork of Rupert Thorne.
"So this is what? Five graveyard shifts of Monitory duty in as many nights?" Diana asked from over his shoulder. "Things pretty quiet in Gotham these days, I take it?"
He spun quickly in his chair to face her, wondering why he hadn't heard her footfalls on the metallic flooring. She hovered six inches off the ground, staring back at him.
"I'm playing catch-up on my shifts," he replied with a grunt, then turned back to the monitors. "Can't have the rest of the League complaining that I don't pull my weight."
"I don't think you'll ever have to worry about that happening," Diana chortled. "How's the arm?"
His eyes twitched involuntarily. He'd never told anyone, but his arrival on the scene as the first responder against Kalibak and his reconstituted army, had left the Batwing in pieces. While he'd been able to eject before Livewire had blown the plane apart, the enormity of the g-forces had left his right shoulder with a third-degree separation. Diana and the rest of the League's timely arrival had allowed him to retreat from the fight. He didn't bother to inform them about his injury, as they were, in his view, already overly protective about his non-powered status.
"Just a little stiff," He glimpsed at her sideways through the slits in his cowl. "What are you doing awake?"
"I haven't slept much all week to be honest. Superman's return from the dead has me up at night thinking."
"Life," Diana replied with a sigh. She reached over his shoulder and switched the monitors' input. The news channels were suddenly replaced with live video feeds of random street corners throughout the world. "Look at all of those people just leading normal, happy lives. Don't you ever wish you could be down there as one of them?"
"I am down there as one of them. Or have you forgotten that?"
"No. I haven't forgotten." Diana sighed. "If Superman hadn't intercepted that blast, you and I would have suffered his fate. We might have been trapped in that future world for eternity."
"My eternity is a lot shorter than yours," he replied. "What's your point?"
"Half of Metropolis turned out for the memorial service to show they cared about Superman. Would the same be true for us?"
"How many people turn out at my funeral doesn't concern me," Batman replied. As he talked, he continued to focus on the notes he was keying into the computer displayed on the overhead monitor. "As for you, it's really pretty much up to you to decide how you want people to think of you. But let me warn you, opinions can change quickly. If you'd snapped Toyman's neck that day, the world would be reading about the militant dangers you and your Amazon sister's pose to the world. Politicians would beg the League to come up with ways to deal with the 'Themysciran Threat'. Since you didn't kill him, the media spends an average of two hours a day debating whether or not you've had breast augmentation."
"So anything that I do or say in Man's World won't matter because of my physical appearance?"
"What you do matters. The example that you set matters. You just have to be prepared to deal with some distractions along the way."
"So why do you do it, then? Why fight the never-ending battle?"
"I get a certain, perverse sense of satisfaction watching the expression of a would-be mugger soiling his pants."
"That's not enough reason to lead the life you've chosen. Shouldn't there be more than that?"
He didn't answer, which must have angered her because she flipped a switch that she obviously thought would turn off his monitors. However, the entire bank of monitors simultaneously displayed streaming video feeds from a tropical island. Bruce was silent and watched for her reaction to what he knew was forthcoming. It didn't take long. Her eyes widened when the image of Lois and Clark lying contentedly in a hammock under a tiki hut filled the screen.
It was an idyllic setting, and there was no mistaking the look of happiness on their faces. The two lovers pulled each other closer. Diana smiled faintly, then switched off the entire bank of monitors.
She cleared her throat. "You miss her, don't you?"
He was surprised at the softness of her voice. "It wasn't meant to be. You?"
"Ditto," she replied with a wry smile, then put her hands on her hip. "But that doesn't mean I've given up men entirely. As a matter of fact, the whole experience gave me some hope."
"Hope can be dangerous."
"Not for me," she replied. "Besides, a dark-horse candidate has my full attention."
"Anybody I know?"
"His name is Bruce," she replied with a devilish grin, then leaned down and brushed her lips on his cheek. "And I happen to think the world of him."
Author's Note: And so ends my retconn of the DCAU, with our fearless couples more (Lois & Clark) or less (Bruce and Diana) in the same shape as they were at the end of Hereafter. I apologize for the drawn out manner of this story. Some of it was burnout on my part, some of it was fueled by the fact that rumblings of JLU being cancelled started when I was halfway through the story, sending me immediately into a funk from which I have not really recovered. On a personal note, I've found out the hard way that its easier to write a fanfic with my own take on a different plot line rather than attempting a retconn at half of the DCAU, so for those of you thinking of doing it, don't try it unless you want a year long migraine.